A couple years ago, I wrote an article about how one person could feed him or herself for $20.
That article went kind of viral, and to this day, it’s the most trafficked page on The Frugal Farm Wife. In fact, maybe that’s how you found me (hi there!).
Not surprisingly, it got it’s fair share of negative feedback, and still does.
Some of the complaints it gets?
This list isn’t organic
No, it never claims to be organic. Sad truth is, you can’t trust the organic label, and it often isn’t worth paying the price for. I firmly believe that foods can still be healthy without organic labeling.
These prices are lower than I can find in my area.
Yes, some areas are more expensive, and that forces you to be more creative. If your area has an Aldi food store, I highly recommend checking it out. If not, check out any and all other stores in your area. We have one store, and one store only, where we can get butter for under $2 a pound. It’s 60 miles away in Waco, so we don’t go very often, but when we do, we. stock. up. And because of that, the butter we eat every day costs less than $2/lb.
This Price list is out of date – there’s no way you could do this now!
That grocery list names chicken leg quarters at $0.95/lb, and to this day, that’s the price you can get them at Aldi – every day. But we found that by waiting for chicken to go on sale at our local mom and pop grocery store (I think it’s a Lowe’s Food Store now), we can get it MUCH cheaper. And of course, we stock up with as much as our freezer can hold when it does. Though we typically pay $.59-$.79/lb, I’ve seen it go as low as $.29.
Shredded cheddar cheese has gone up from $.18 per ounce to $.20 per ounce. I’m not sure if that price increase is due to the inflation of time, or because we changed locations (the original list was created when we lived near Nashville, now we live near Stephenville Texas), but since in this area, the butter, corn tortillas, bananas, and frozen veggies are cheaper, even without counting the cheapster chicken, we ultimately still come out ahead.
We also picked up ten pounds of potatoes last week for $1.50, where the $20 shopping list allows for $2.89.
Y’all, I know that the cost of living in some areas is much higher than in others, and I totally sympathize!
So with all that said, here are some tips that can save you grocery money regardless of where you live:
- Stay away from high end stores. Harris Teeter, Whole foods, even Kroger are expensive. I love them, but I can’t afford to shop there. Instead, look for Aldi, Save-A-Lot, discount stores, and mom and pop stores where the sales can be fantastic. You may have to drive a little further to get to these stores, but in many cases, they’re well worth it!
- Get in touch with sales cycles. Grocery prices are kind of like the moon – they tend to wax and wan throughout the month. Keep a sharp eye out, and get familiar with the sales cycles of thing you use a lot of.
- Learn to cook from scratch. You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s so true! Ingredients are much cheaper than prepared foods. Period.
- Don’t be afraid to stock pile. That butter we stock up on whenever we’re in Waco? That’ll keep forever(ish) in the freezer, so I have no problem buying an entire box of it when I go. Yes, it hurts to shell out that much money at one time, but then I don’t have to pay for butter again for six months, so it’s all okay.
There are a LOT of things like that that will keep in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer for a surprisingly long time (raise your hand if you’ve ever “lost” a package of carrots in your refrigerator for who-knows-how-many months – and they were still good when you found them.).
YES, you can make the $20 meal plan work. …But it’s up to you to find the determination to make it happen.
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